I’ve walked down ancient streets, under age-old archways and through bustling souks. I’ve stood upon Biblical and Quranic grounds, and stared up at perennial skies. I’ve looked into the eyes and hearts of hatred, and of love, in the faces of hosts and hostiles. And in this cauldron of culture, of civilisation, I’m somewhat lost, in lust and infatuation, of its promise of unpredictable adventure and romance.
Wow! Did I just say all that? Dramatic!
No really, it has been an amazing 2 weeks. The days have flown by in a whirlwind of sights, sounds, smiles,, embraces, and friendships that will never be broken inshAllah. I’ve learnt a lot. I’ve worked hard, played hard, and prayed hard too!
This place, this odd place, has a strange effect on you. On the one hand, you step into the holy precinct of Al Aqsa, and forget about the whole world. Peace, tranquility, a sense of spiritual connection thats easy to feel but hard to explain. And then you step out of the archaic boundaries, into the hustle, bustle and tension of modern Jerusalem. The current political situation stares you in the face with a grimace and you can’t help but feel a bit hopeless as a human being, in knowing that you can’t do much to ease the suffering and conflict of people, here or anywhere. Only stand back and watch.
I’ve sat with the intelligentsia, and found it baffling how anyone can remain emotionally indifferent to the anarchic crisis, or even the antiquitous (is that a word?) surroundings. I’ve been revelling in them, and reeling from daily news of ever increasing casualties. Truly a paradoxical and perplexing experience. And yet the strange thing is I’ve never felt more human.
I suppose that’s what happens… you miss your family and long for their human presence… you see the pain and suffering on the news and feel its immediacy, being only yards from people being carried away on stretchers… and you walk through sanctified hallways where men from long long ago prophesied and prayed for future generations. It’s a cauldron of culture, of civilisation, and of confused compassion. Love thy enemy, hate they enemy.
I’ve fallen in love with this place. Quite madly. But like every place I visit, I’ve got to leave, no matter how long my face or low my heart. I feel confident though, I’m leaving with a mission to urge others to come; to show support, and love, and let our brethren here know that we have not forgotten them.
The work here has been bone grindingly tiring, and the emotional roller coaster has left me feeling just a little bit nauseous. Going back with work in mind I know I’ve got a lot more learning and improving to do. Mental preparation, learning new languages and even my kit too. My gear needs upgrading, quite desperately. You can’t try and cover refugee camps, hospital visits, walking tours and violent protests with an ageing DSLR and a couple of radio mics. Its been the lightest kit I’ve ever used on a professional gig, and though it never let me down, I know I need to gear up a bit. Thinking about the A7s… or wait for the 7d mk2? No idea at the moment… I know I need to but I can hardly muster the energy to think about it.
I’ll probably still have a few words to say yet, as our flight on Tuesday remains uncertain. Ben Gurion, Tel Aviv has been on and off with flights, because of the supposed danger of Hamas rockets, and tomorrow I visit the excavated tunnels beneath Al Aqsa, no doubt it’ll be interesting; but if I don’t let me end by saying salaam, shalom, peace and love from Jerusalem.